New Reports Show Continued Disparities in Minnesota Health Care

MN Community Measurement releases data on Minnesota health care disparities

MINNEAPOLIS – May 19, 2020 – MN Community Measurement (MNCM), an independent nonprofit organization that empowers health care decision makers with meaningful data to drive improvement, has released two new reports highlighting disparities in health care quality in Minnesota.

The reports use a unique data source to examine disparities in quality measures for preventive care and care for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and depression. “Through its statewide data collection, MNCM has an ability to measure health care disparities that is unique in the nation,” said MNCM President and CEO Julie Sonier. “Tragically, we are currently seeing the ways that health disparities can affect outcomes during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, we’re concerned about how disruptions to health care services and access will affect future health for groups that are already at risk for worse outcomes.” The new reports use data collected by MNCM in 2019 to describe disparities by type of health insurance and by race, ethnicity, language, and country of origin.

Disparities by Type of Health Insurance

The first report, “2019 Minnesota Health Care Disparities by Insurance Type,” was prepared for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and examines differences in nine quality indicators between patients covered by Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP) managed care plans and other types of health insurance. Although large gaps exist between quality measures for MHCP enrollees and other types of insurance, performance improved in 2019 for six of the nine measures included in the analysis. In addition, the gap between MCHP and other insurance types has narrowed over time for seven of the nine measures.

“In a few areas, the needle is moving in the right direction for our families and neighbors who get health coverage through public programs, but the needle is not moving far or fast enough,” DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. “We need to do better as a state. DHS appreciates the community-wide work being done to eliminate disparities and encourages our partners to use this report as an urgent call to take more aggressive actions to address the structural aspects of our health care system that continue producing indefensible disparities in health outcomes for Minnesotans.”

The report documents wide disparities by race and ethnicity within MHCP, especially for American Indian/Alaska Natives and for Black/African American MHCP enrollees.

As with health care quality overall, there is significant variation across health care providers in quality measures for MHCP enrollees. The report recognizes eight medical groups that achieved performance above the MHCP average on at least five of the nine measures included in the report:

  • Allina Health
  • Essentia Health
  • Fairview Health Services
  • HealthEast Clinics
  • HealthPartners Clinics
  • Lakewood Health System
  • Mankato Clinic
  • Park Nicollet Health Services

An appendix to the report includes results by medical group and clinic location, where applicable.

Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, Language, and Country of Origin

The second report, “Minnesota Health Care Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, Language and Country of Origin: 2019 Report,” is an in-depth analysis of disparities in quality measures for colorectal cancer screening, diabetes, vascular care, asthma, and depression. New to the report this year, are summary information on separate components of the diabetes and vascular care measures, and more in-depth analysis within race/ethnicity/language/country of origin categories (for example, combinations of race and language or race and sex). This information has been added to provide new insights on potential strategies for reducing disparities.

Across all measures included in the report, American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, and Hispanic Minnesotans experienced the largest disparities. Results by language and country of origin are more mixed, with non-English speaking patients and patients born outside of the U.S. sometimes experiencing better outcomes.

“Minnesota exists in a disturbing paradox in being one of the healthiest states in the nation, yet at the same time being home to some of the worst health inequities,” said Dr. Mark Steffen, MD, MPH, vice president and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “These disparities are ingrained in our communities often driven by race, ethnicity, as well as language and country of origin which continue to be the ultimate force multipliers of health inequities. The comprehensive tracking and analysis that this report brings us will give detailed insights that can empower health care decision makers with meaningful data to create an equitable Minnesota.”

An appendix to the report presents results by medical group.

About MN Community Measurement

MN Community Measurement is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering health care decision makers with meaningful data to drive improvement. A trusted source of health care data since 2005, MNCM works with doctors, hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and state agencies to collect, analyze, and report health care data related to quality, cost, and patient experience. Learn more at

Contact: Raya Zimmerman


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